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West Vancouver’s Christmas Dundarave Festival of Lights

Dundarave Festival of Lights

With its Christmas trees and free concerts, West Vancouver‘s Dundarave Festival of Lights is a great place to enjoy holiday festivities on the North Shore.

The Christmas trees and decorations were up from December 2nd in 2023 until the beginning of January in 2024. Special free events took place on the Saturdays of December 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd. There was also a free event on Friday, December 8th.

For full details about the festival, continue reading or visit the official Dundarave Festival of Lights website.


This article contains the following information about the festival:

When and Where is the Festival? | What You’ll See | Forest of Miracles | Saturday Concerts & EventsAlso in the Area | Other Information


Dundarave Festival of Lights


Christmas in West Vancouver

Billed as the “Ultimate Canadian Christmas” and running for over 25 years, the Dundarave Festival of Lights is a fairly quiet and peaceful winter holiday festival on weekdays. It’s a nice place to visit any time over the winter holiday season, but especially interesting on Saturdays when there is free live music and other activities.

As many as 55,000 people turn out to celebrate the season and admire the festival’s Christmas trees and holiday decorations over the course of the month. It’s a great community event!


For the event’s official website, click Dundarave Festival of Lights.


North Shore Christmas Activities


When and Where is the Festival

This past holiday season, the Dundarave Festival of Lights ran from December 2nd, 2023, until early January in 2024. The event is headlined by special events on the first four Saturdays in December.

The Dundarave Festival of Lights takes place at Dundarave Park in West Vancouver, right at the waterfront by 150-25th Street. That’s where most of the trees are located and where the live events take place on Saturdays. A number of trees are also at Grosvenor Ambleside Galleria at 1355 Bellevue Avenue. This second venue is covered. It’s also near 14th Street and Marine Drive, about a 30-minute walk from Dundarave Beach along the seawall.

In addition to the waterfront area at Dundarave Beach and Grosvenor Ambleside, in past years Christmas trees have also been decorated at Millennium Park which is located by the waterfront at the end of 15th Street by Argyle Avenue. This didn’t happen in 2022, and it didn’t happen in 2023 either.


What You’ll See at the Festival

Every year the North Shore festival hosts the Forest of Miracles which features dozens of decorated Christmas trees. The Dundarave Festival of Lights usually puts on four Saturdays of free live music and other activities. Last year, there was also a small, one hour-long, fifth event at Grosvenor Ambleside Galleria on Friday, December 8th.

The best times to visit the Dundarave Festival of Lights are during the special events on select Saturdays in the afternoons and at night when the Forest of Miracles is lit up. You’ll find lots of decorated trees most evenings, but not a lot of people. It’s quite beautiful.

Heading to Dundarave in the late afternoon is also really nice. You can see the Christmas trees in the daylight and then go for a walk along the seawall towards Ambleside Park. You can then walk back to Dundarave at around dusk in time to see the trees again with all their lights at night. See below for a video showing what the place looks like.


Dundarave Christmas Forest of Miracles
Dundarave Forest of Miracles


Forest of Miracles

The Forest of Miracles at the Dundarave Festival of Lights features a collection of dozens of beautifully decorated Christmas trees at Dundarave Beach. It’s a festive fundraising attraction where local businesses, organizations and residents make a donation to the Lookout Society’s North Shore Shelter and then decorate their sponsored Christmas tree.

The collection of trees in the Forest of Miracles is a sight to see, and it’s all for a great cause. It’s also a nice addition to what is already one of the most beautiful places in the entire Lower Mainland.

(NOTE: If you are a business, organization or individual wanting to have a tree in 2024, the cost to do so is $300 if booked early enough or $400 closer to the time.)


For the event’s official website, click Dundarave Festival of Lights.


Forest of Miracles Video

To give you an idea of what to expect with respect to the Christmas trees, check out the following video. It features scenes of the Forest of Miracles both during the day and at night. As you’ll see, both the Christmas trees and the area in general are beautiful!

The video was taken at the beginning of December a few years ago. We arrived at around 4:00 pm, took some video, and then went for a walk along the seawall. We returned about an hour later at dusk and then filmed until it was dark. The winter sunset at Dundarave alone was worth the trip!



Concerts & Events

Free concerts and other activities take place at the Dundarave Festival of Lights on Saturdays leading up to Christmas. Below is what took place in 2023.

  • December 2nd, 2023 – the Dundarave Christmas Fair ran from noon until dusk. At this event, area businesses and organizations decorated their respective Christmas trees at Dundarave Beach. There was also live entertainment between 12:00 pm and around 5:00 pm.
  • December 9th, 2023 – the Nativity and Paddle Songs also ran from noon until dusk. At this event an elder from the local Squamish Nation blessed the Dundarave Nativity (which is an impressive, hand-carved work of art). She also led a session of dancing, storytelling and reconciliation activities. After that, there was live music with a couple of bands until around 4:00 pm.
  • December 16th, 2023Dundarave’s World Christmas featured an afternoon of multicultural music and dancing from noon until around 4:00 pm.
  • December 23rd, 2023Christmas Wassail & Bonfire Night featured a giant bonfire and more between 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm on the last Saturday before Christmas. The event also included a visit from Santa and live music.

Below is a more detailed description of each of the above events.

Note: In 2023 there was also a fifth event. On Friday, December 8th, there was Light Up the Galleria from 4:00 pm until 5:00 pm. It took place at Grosvenor Ambleside at 1355 Bellevue Avenue. The free event featured holiday decorations, selfie photo opportunities and music by the Mulgrave Junior Choir.


Festival Shelter at Dundarave
Concert Shelter at Dundarave Beach


Dundarave Christmas Fair

The Dundarave Christmas Fair takes place on a Saturday afternoon close to the beginning of December. This is the day that Christmas tree sponsors come out and decorate their trees. The trees just look like trees until they are all decorated, but there is live entertainment to keep things interesting.

Last year, the Dundarave Christmas Fair happened on Saturday, December 2nd, from noon until dusk. The entertainment lineup was the following:

  • 12:00 pmWest Van Adult Pops Band
  • 2:00 pmThe Brassskins (which play a mix of Jazz, Funk and Ska)
  • 3:00 pmThe Delibles
  • 4:00 pmWest Van Youth Band & the official opening of the Forest of Miracles


Squamish Elder at Forest of Miracles
Squamish Elder Wendy Charbonneau


Dundarave Nativity Paddle Songs

From around noon until dusk on Saturday, December 9th, 2023, the Dundarave Nativity Paddle Songs event took place from noon until around 4:00 pm. The event has a First Nations theme. It includes the work of local songwriters as well as traditional music by Squamish Elders.

The same as most recent years in the past, at the event in 2023, Squamish Elder Wendy Charbonneau blessed the Dundarave Nativity and then led a session of storytelling and dancing. She was accompanied by the Paddle Song Dancers. Entertainment later in the afternoon was with the following bands (the first of which also performed at the event the previous year):

  • ​2:00 pmViper Central
  • 3:00 pmMIDMAY (which is an Indie/Alt R&B band)


Wendy Charbonneau and Family
Paddle Song Performers


World Christmas Concerts

Dundarave’s World Christmas took place from around noon until dusk on December 16th in 2023. The event features an international theme. In previous years it has showcased French, Mariachi, Celtic and other types of music from around the globe. Last year, it included Bollywood and Scottish dancing, as well as both Slavic and Broadway music.

Performers at the event in 2023 included the following:

  • 12:00 pmShiamak (which led a session of Bollywood dance lessons)
  • 1:00 pmScottish Country Dance & Ceilidh
  • 2:00 pmZeellia (performed Slavic Soul)
  • 3:00 pmBurstin’ with Broadway (which is a choir with 100+ members)


Audience at Dundarave Festival Performance


Wassail & Bonfire Night

The last Saturday before Christmas Day is Christmas Wassail & Bonfire Night which goes from around 3:00 pm until 8:00 pm. It’s the final main event of the festival. Participants enjoy a large bonfire, the company of lots of people and a visit from Santa Claus. In 2023 the event took place on Saturday, December 23rd.

This past year, the event featured caroling around the bonfire, some square dancing, and music with the Psych Latin Funk band Los Duendes.

In past years, the bonfire gets lit at dusk, sometime between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm, and Santa arrives at around 5:30 pm. Exact times and details in 2023 may have varied.

The entertainment schedule for 2023 was as follows:

  • 3:00 pmLos Duendes (Psych Latin Funk)
  • 4:00 pmMidmay Music (Alternative R&B)
  • 5:00 pmPaul Silveria & Friends (Square Dancing)
  • 6:00 pmSongTree (Folk Music)

To learn more about this event, see our article about Wassail & Bonfire Night.


West Vancouver Wassail Bonfire Night
Wassail & Bonfire Night


Wassail Night Video

For an idea of what a Dundarave Festival of Lights event looks like, check out the following video. It shows scenes of Wassail & Bonfire Night from 2021.

In the video you’ll see the decorated Christmas trees. The tent you’ll see in the distance is where the live entertainment takes place. There isn’t always a bonfire at the events – just at the final event – on Wassail Night. There is, however, live music under the tented area on the first three or so Saturdays in December.



Also in the Area

While in the area, consider combining your trip to the Dundarave Festival of Lights with a visit to other nearby places of interest. The Beach House is a popular restaurant right beside the event venue at Dundarave. Just be sure to make reservations in advance, though, especially on Saturdays when there are live events at the beach.

Dundarave is also right on the water and connected to Ambleside by the seawall, making the area a great place for walks. And finally, just a couple of minutes away is the West Vancouver Aquatic Centre. The facility has one of the region’s best swimming pools, making it a fabulous place to visit most years if you have kids or want some indoor exercise.

Also on the North Shore, in North Vancouver, there is the Shipyards District. There you’ll find more Christmas lights as well as free ice-skating opportunities.

Other places to check out on the North Shore this time of year are the Local Ski Hills (which offer snowshoeing, tubing and other winter activities). There are also Christmas attractions like Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge, the Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain, and the Holiday Hi-Light Festival at the Park and Tilford Gardens in North Vancouver.

If all those amazing places aren’t enough, just on the other side of the Lions Gate Bridge are the millions of Christmas lights at Bright Nights in Stanley Park. Last year, the Pacific National Exhibition also hosted the PNE Winter Fair in December, and the multi-dimensional film Soar with Santa shows at FlyOver Canada. Other great places to visit are the Vancouver Christmas Market and Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden.


Canyon Lights at Capilano Bridge


Other Information

For more information about the West Vancouver event, see the Dundarave Festival of Lights website.

For more ideas on places to see Christmas lights in the Lower Mainland, click Top Things to do at Christmas.

And for more fun things to do in December, click Vancouver’s December Calendar.